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Cyprus

Econ probe partly held up by other countries, MPs told

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou

By Angelos Anastasiou
Investigations into the collapse of the economy get held up on requests for legal assistance from other countries, lawmakers on the House finance committee heard from Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou and police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou on Monday.
Discussing the ministry’s budget, deputies asked to be informed on the nature of delays in investigations over the economic collapse of 2013, Nicolaou said the probes are continuing as normal, but are complicated and require time.
There is a need for extensive investigation, he added, and assistance from authorities in other countries is being requested.
“We have asked other countries for assistance,” he said, noting that some have responded fully, others only partly, while others have not even replied yet.
He clarified that the investigation is being conducted under the attorney-general’s guidance.
“The ministry is only involved in issues of requests for legal assistance,” Nicolaou said.
“However, we are trying to support the effort any way we can, and provide any assistance required to the team of investigators.”
The justice minister recalled that cases have already been filed against key individuals.
Chrysostomou said that the biggest problem is that some requests for legal assistance have gone unanswered.
Everyone is well aware of these cases’ degree of complexity, the police chief said, adding that upon assuming his duties he was asked to double the number of investigators assigned to the economic collapse team to 30, which he approved.
“We put ourselves under pressure because there is a moral obligation towards the public,” he said.
He noted that the team of investigators is supported by four experts in the field.
Additionally, he said, the attorney-general has tasked specific lawyers with guiding investigators on a daily basis.
While the work is being carried out by the team of investigators, Chrysostomou ceded, it is under the constant monitoring and guidance of the legal service, and this is how it should be done, according to the Constitution.
He added that the police and the legal service are co-operating closely because they share the same goals.

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